Yesterday morning, I woke up and ran into my door frame in a tired state, couldn't find anything good to wear to work because my room is a complete mess, fumbled through my daily tasks, came home and ordered a sub but found a dead bug in it (I ate it anyway), and watched Dolly Parton's two-hour-long made for T.V. Christmas movie before going to sleep and encountering my fifth horrific nightmare in two weeks. But today--things are going a little better. I'm having a good hair day, for one. I also put my little solar-powered Rudolf (he rocks back and forth under fluorescent lights) on my desk. All seems to be well.
One cool thing that did happen yesterday was stumbling across an enjoyable article discussing Newt Scamander's role in the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. No film spoilers here, but it tackled toxic masculinity and how Newt may have started a path for a new kind of hero. If you haven't seen it, you can check it out on my Facebook page, and, ya know, follow me for more intellectually stimulating content (I shared a video of Sesame Street characters doing the mannequin challenge a few days ago).
Again, without any spoilers, the article sparked a short but engaging conversation with Orey. We started discussing the different Hogwarts houses, and how I had been a Ravenclaw up until the new Pottermore test that landed me in Gryffindor. This was quite a few months ago, but I still may not be over it. How dare they? I thought. I am the cookie cutter Ravenclaw, am I not? I was concerned that being removed from the house would discredit any intelligence or creativity I had--even though that is really silly because it's a FICTIONAL TEST but you know. I trust you all to understand my dramatic over-analyzing of fantasy universes.
Plus, being in Gryffindor really put the pressure on. Am I really that good or brave of a person? I tend to think that I have this hard-ass, bitter shell but I'm pretty sure at this point that everyone who looks at me sees a pile of sparkly cotton candy with eyes. A puppy with a bow cuddling next to a giant teddy bear. A hedgehog with cat-eyed glasses and lipstick clutching my Twin Peaks film theory book. I try to be friendly and kind but I often feel like a trapped mess. There is hardly anything noble about that.
Then, Orey told me something surprising that completely took me off guard. He speculated that perhaps I used to be a Ravenclaw as a child, but I have evolved into a Gryffindor, and he could see me as one. He explained:
"You care more about the group. You do use your brain, but it's to help other people. You get chosen for leadership positions. People ask for your advice, not necessarily for wisdom, but because you make them feel better. I think if you weren't as anxious of a person, your bravery would stand out more. I know you make "brave" moves a lot; your fears are just not as noticeable for most people."
I slightly teared up at a Facebook message talking about Harry Potter and personalities, for it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I cry over a lot, but from an outside perspective, I realize that this sits on the silly scale. Orey, although a wordsmith, doesn't always say affirming things. It just isn't how he expresses admiration. His few, short, speculative sentences on my recent Pottermore house change meant more to me than he probably realized--and generated a completely new thought.
This is not supposed to be all about me, or a brag, but rather about all of you. I often feel that I'm not good, or not loving enough, or definitely not brave. How many chances go by, and I sit in my car or bed crying or pulling my hair because of panic or complete sadness? But Orey has seen different. Maybe I have been a hidden Gryffindor all along, being there for others, leading, and taking risks without even realizing. Is there anything wrong with owning that?
Anxiety and depression can lie. Mental illness lies. It tells you that you are things you're not. An impostor, fooling everyone, not successful, a bad person undeserving of your loved ones. Whispering in your ear that others merely tolerate you, that you're actually annoying or you said something wrong the other night while drinking or maybe should've worded an email to your boss differently because now they might fire you.
It can hide your inner Gryffindor, which here is a simple (and hopefully an obvious) metaphor for your own strength and goodness. Your inner lion, warmth, whatever you choose, is there, although you may not see it--others do. And this can go for anyone who feels down, is being too hard on themselves, or struggles with their own worth. Don't let nervousness or doubt keep you from seeing your true self. And be sure to tell those you love about their good qualities, and how they shine in the world. Believe me, we all need it. Sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else's eyes to find out who you really are.
So embrace that you may be positively impacting others and places around you. And continue to do so. Amplify it. Learn to do more. Love yourself and think of all the ways that you are actually pretty awesome. Even if you sometimes feel more like this:
It's time to step outside, shake your hair and roar in a public space. We don't need to wear cloaks of invisibility anymore.